Satire ads banned for Bush 'insult'

BBC 11/27/02

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Broadcasting watchdogs in the UK have banned adverts for the satirical cartoon 2DTV after ruling that they were insulting to US President George W Bush.

The commercials were to be broadcast to promote a Christmas video for the ITV1 show.

The Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) ruled that the ads were offensive because they questioned the president's intelligence, and without having asked his permission.

The BACC is shown adverts before they can go out on television.

In one of the ads, a cartoon President Bush was shown opening a copy of the video and saying: "My favourite - just pop it in the video player."

But he places it in a toaster instead and the videotape is burnt.

The watchdog said it was offensive towards President Bush.

Another promotion for the tape featuring England football captain David Beckham was also banned.

The ad featured Beckham asking his wife: "Victoria, how do you spell DVD?"

The BACC ruled it was also offensive.


Producers defended the ads by saying the show itself was more abusive, but had never had a warning from the Independent Television Commission (ITC), which regulates ITV programmes.

2DTV producer Giles Pilbrow told BBC News Online the BACC had blindly applied their code.

"It's their interpretation that it is offensive to Bush. That is our bread and butter. We are far ruder to him on the programme," he said.

"Our lawyer looked at it and said it wasn't offensive, and that if it went to a court of law it wouldn't be seen as offensive.

"They have just applied the law without any interpretation of it."

The programme-makers replaced the commercial with another, featuring a digitally censored President Bush in front of the White House, but this too was pulled by the BACC.

Mr Pilbrow said he had asked whether the same rule would apply if the ad had featured caricatures of Osama Bin Laden or Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, and the BACC had said it would.

"In my mind this is ridiculous. There needs to be a serious discussion about it," he said.

But the watchdog's director, Uisdean Maclean, defended the decision.

"People are entitled not to be exploited for someone else's commercial gain," he said.

Adverts are subject to stricter guidelines because they arrive in homes "unbidden", the ITC said.

The ITC's advertising code says: "With limited exceptions, living people must not be portrayed, caricatured or referred to in advertisements without their permission."

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